Crimson Fire: Fireborn (Pitch Black Records)
Well this is something I didn't expect at all. When I first saw the press release for Greek band Crimson Fire's sophomore album I expected it to be another quality power metal release that had similarities to Firewind, Innerwish etc I'm talking heavier than normal power metal with passionate vocals and virtuoso guitar playing. However from the opening few minutes of Fireborn I found that the band based in Kallithea were more than that, yes they can be categorised as power metal but they have a distinct macho hard rock vein that separates them from a lot of their countrymen and plonks them in the NWOBHM camp but with the melodic ear of The Scorpions. The band have had high profile guest spots with Canadian legends Anvil, NWOBHM survivors Tokyo Blade, Elixr, as well as American speed metal masters Helstar.
As well as The Scorpions influence that is writ large over this release the Harley riding Priest middle period slides in throughout, battling with Fighting The World style Manowar and also some Queensryche comes with both the backing vocals and on the slower numbers. Crimson Fire are a four piece with the engine room powered by Nemo's bass and Kostas' drums, the riffs and squealing solos supplied by Johnny with Stelios singing over the top, part Rob Halford, part Klaus Meine. You can just imagine the band clad in denim, leather, tasseled jackets and high tops riding motorbikes through a city at midnight on their way to a fight with a rival gang, with the songs on this record as their soundtrack.
In fact the video for (dreadfully named) Bad Girl is exactly what I've just described but it's gleefully tongue in cheek too, there is not a shred of po-faced Manowarisms, Crimson Fire know that it's all a bit of fun and it shows through with their music. On my first listen to the record I wanted to play the whole thing again from Take To The Skies, to the 80's loving Young Free, the rampaging Knightrider (sadly not about the Hasselhoff show), missing the one misstep of Her Eyes but revelling in the rest of the mad metal might. Fireborn is a great record which will see Crimson Fire jump out of the Greek scene and onto the world at large. 8/10
Silverbones: Wild Waves (Stormspell Records)
There is no other way to describe this record than sounding like Running Wild, Italian's Silverbones do such a good job of emulating the Germanic kings of Pirate Metal that really they could be a tribute act much like Swedes Blazon Stone, reviewed previously. Wild Waves has tracks such as Queen Anne's Revenge, Riders Of The New World, the title track and the epic finale of Black Bart; along with the cover art which features a solitary pirate facing down an enemy ship, Silverbones are definitely Under Jolly Roger for all of their debut album. With speed metal shredding and galloping rhythm section and raspy vocals that are part Rock N Rolf, part Chris Boltendahl sitting the band in the studs and gauntlet's of mid-80's heavy metal. Despite the blatant copyist sound Wild Waves is not a bad album, the band all play well and the songs carry the right amount of bombast for band's of their ilk, the songs will get you head nodding and your fist pumping but with pirate metal being a bit of a now-overlooked genre in the power metal pantheon Silverbones may be walking the plank commercially if they stick to the sound too rigidly. 5/10
Nightmen: Fifteen Minutes Of Pain (Lövely Records)
I have a bone to pick with Swedish garage rockers Nightmen and their debut record, if you are calling it Fifteen Minutes Of Pain then don't make the album 28 minutes long, it's false advertising. I joke of course as the Malmo rock n rollers spit out fuzzy, punky leather jacket clad riffs at a furious pace harking back to the 70's New York scene when CBGB's was the best night of your life. With 12 tracks the album fuses spiky punk, D.I.Y garage rock, surf tendencies and infectious power-pop, think Juliette & The Licks, Blondie, The Ramones, Cheap Trick, The Cars and Iggy Pop in a blender and you'll get an idea of what's to come. The four piece have a trio of vocalists with guitarist's Tony, Christine and bassist Erik all sharing the mic, separately or on a few tracks all at once, leading to many instances of playful call and response in the album's more romantic/lustful moments.
With speedy guitar stabs and sprinting basslines and drummer Nopan hammering his snare the songs on this record rarely make it past the 3 minute mark with only the final song Down And Out proving the exception clocking in at 4:02. The shortness of the songs is not a problem though, as music like this has to feel urgent, insistent, ready to explode into a shower of beer and hysteria at any point, which happily is what Fifteen Minutes Of Pain feels like, there's a sense of playfulness and filth about the record that pervades every song giving the album replay value as the soundtrack to your next beer bash with your leather-clad mates. A record that begs to be played loudly, don't disappoint folks! 8/10